Friday, May 04, 2007

Don't Be Taken Captive

Colossians 2:8 - See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

The above verse is one of my favorites. I have lots of favorite verses, of course, but these days I have seen so much misinformation disseminating from different groups (each with their own secular humanistic agenda), it behooves us to examine what this verse is telling (as well as warning) us about.

It always helps to recognize the verses before and after Colossians 2:8. Context and the original intent of the author (exegesis) is very important while studying Scripture. If proper context is not utilized, it becomes really easy for someone to mistakenly take a Scripture verse and put his/her own meaning into it (eisogesis).

Colossian 2:6,7 - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The notes in my NIV Bible expand upon the verses:

Colossians 2:6,7 notes: Receiving Christ as Lord of your life is the beginning of life with Christ. But you must continue to follow his leadership by being rooted, built up, and strengthened in the faith. Christ wants to guide you and help you with your daily problems. You can live for Christ by
(1) committing your life and submitting your will to him (Romans 12:1,2)
(2) seeking to learn from him, his life, and his teachings (Colossians 3:16)
(3) recognizing the Holy Spirit's power in you (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22)

Colossians 2:7 notes: Paul uses the illustration of our being rooted in Christ. Just as plants draw nourishment from the soil through their roots, so we draw our life-giving strength from Christ. The more we draw our strength from him, the less we will be fooled by those who falsely claim to have life's answers. If Christ is our strength, we will be free from human regulations.

Now, the notes on Colossians 2:8 -

Colossians 2:8 notes: Paul writes against any philosophy of life based only on human ideas and experiences. Paul himself was a gifted philosopher, so he is not condemning philosophy. He is condemning teaching that credits humanity, not Christ, with being the answer to life's problems. That approach becomes a false religion. There are many man-made approaches to life's problems that totally disregard God. To resist heresy you must use your mind, keep your eyes on Christ, and study God's Word.

Those three things together help us to resist and avoid heresy.

1. Use your mind.
2. Keep your eyes on Christ.
3. Study God's Word.

If you leave one out, then you could be susceptible to falling for any deceptive humanistic philosophy that could come along. Notice that the notes do not condemn philosophy, per se, but condemns teaching that credits humanity, not Christ, with being the answer to life's problems. It is obvious that certain philosophies can incorrectly give us the wrong answers to life's meaning and purpose, as well. It is when a person's humanistic desires and philosophies take the place of God in his/her life, and thus end up totally disregarding (and, as a result end up choosing to disobey) God that we fall into the realm of being deceived by the enemy of our souls.

Right after Paul tells us not to become "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy" he describes Who and what will keep us away from falling for such error!

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Colossians 2:9 notes: Again Paul asserts Christ's deity. "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" means that all of God was in Christ's human body. When we have Christ we have everything we need for salvation and right living.

Colossians 2:10 notes: When we know Jesus Christ, we don't need to seek God by means of other religions, cults, or unbiblical philosophies as the Colossians were doing. Christ alone holds the answers to the true meaning of life, because he is life. Christ is the unique source of knowledge and power for the Christian life. No Christian needs anything in addition to what Christ has provided to be saved. We are complete in him.

Colossians 2:11 notes: Jewish males were circumcised as a sign of the Jews' covenant with God (Genesis 17:9-14). With the death of Christ, circumcision was no longer necessary. So now our commitment to God is written on our hearts, not our bodies. Christ sets us free from our evil desires by a spiritual operation, not a bodily one. God removes the old nature and gives us a new nature.

Colossians 2:11, 12 notes: In this passage, circumcision is related to baptism; therefore, some see baptism as the New Testament sign of the covenant, identifying the person with the covenant community. Baptism parallels the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and it also portrays the death and burial of our sinful old way of life followed by resurrection to new life in Christ. Remembering that our old sinful life is dead and buried with Christ gives us a powerful motive to resist sin. Not wanting the desires of our past to come back to power again, we can consciously choose to treat our desires as if they were dead. Then we can continue to enjoy our wonderful new life with Christ (see Galatians 3:27 and Colossians 3:1-4).

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